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Virgin workers demand end to ‘stress-inducing’ workplace issues

written by Jake Nelson | July 25, 2023

Rob Finlayson shot this Virgin Australia 737-800, VH-YFL, at Brisbane Airport.

Virgin Australia workers have given the airline’s owner, Bain Capital, a list of five demands as enterprise agreement negotiations begin ahead of a potential IPO.

The TWU is calling on Virgin and Bain Capital to “invest in [the airline’s] long-term success” before moving ahead with the ASX listing, and to address workplace issues that workers say have caused stress and fatigue.

In a press release, the union said it wanted Bain to commit to addressing “cultural issues” that have caused “high turnover, absenteeism and disputation”; providing “good, secure jobs” for pilots, ground staff and cabin crew; continuing to invest in technology, fleet and workers to “maintain and grow safe, fair standards”; providing an annual $1,000 employee share scheme in conjunction with the IPO; and supporting the TWU campaign for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission.

“The Virgin workforce is at the core of the airline’s reputation and service standards,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

“Unlike Qantas which illegally sacked and treated its workforce with disdain, Virgin has historically valued its dedicated team. Workers are eager to get back to that workplace culture after pandemic sacrifices and rostering issues have caused workers to fall behind and staff turnover and absenteeism to rise.


“Ground workers, cabin crew and pilots are standing together to call for fairness, respect and the opportunity to build and maintain Virgin Australia as the best airline it can be.

“Bain stands to gain hundreds of millions from an upcoming IPO, it is only right that hardworking staff are rewarded for their efforts through a reasonable employee share scheme, the likes of which are common in Australia.”

In a statement, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said, “Virgin Australia has a long proud history over the last 23 years of putting people at the centre of our business and building strong relationships across our workforce and with unions.

“We remain focused on setting Virgin Australia up for long-term success, and rewarding and acknowledging our people as part of that.”

Enterprise agreement negotiations have already begun for ground staff and cabin crew, with pilot negotiations to commence within the next few months. The airline last week backed down and agreed to a 13.5 per cent pay rise for engineers rather than go to the Fair Work Commission, as reported in The Australian Financial Review.

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